After an inner source contribution, it's important to thank the contributor for their time and effort. This pattern gives guidance that not only effectively acknowledges the contribution but also endgenders further engagement from the contributor and others.
How can we properly express our gratitude to a contributor for their inner source contribution to a project? It can be easy to forget to do so or not know the words or medium to use for adequate effect and sincerity. Praise and thanks are easy, affordable ways to keep contributors and their managers motivated and excited to continue. A pattern in this area makes it easy to do and ensures that the message comes across clearly and sincerely.
- You are the Trusted Committer or maintainer on an inner source project.
- You value the community of contributors and want to maintain and grow it.
- You are busy, which makes it easy to forget some of the soft touches like praise and thanks.
- You may not be someone that is comfortable in social situations or good with words.
- Peer recognition is very important to job satisfaction and career development.
It feels good to anyone to be recognized by others. In a professional setting, increased recognition is also an avenue to increased influence and growth. Any time someone gives to your inner source project, recognize them with a sincere and qualified "thank you".
For non-trivial contributions (all code contributions and also significant time contributions), say thank you via the following mechanisms:
- Call out the person by name in any chat location (e.g. Slack) where you organize your project activity. Let everyone know what they did and thank them publicly. Example:
Everyone @here give a high-five to @andrew.clegg for updating the rcs-viewer to the latest version of the hebo-client (https://github.com/rcs/rcs-viewer/pull/81). Thanks for helping keep this library up-to-date, Andy!
- Send an email to them and their manager (cc'd) privately thanking them for the contribution. For code contributions often-times you can just forward the merge notification mail. Example:
Hi, Andy, I want to thank you again for making this update. It may have been a small amount of time, but it's attention like this from each person that make the RCS project work for all of us. Thanks for solving your own problem in a way that also makes the rcs-viewer better for everyone.
Feedback like this leaves the contributor with a fantastic feeling and ready to come back for more. Combining both forms of thanks gives them recognition in front of their peers (breadth) and in front of their direct manager (depth). There's a subtle encouragement for those peers in chat to consider contributing themselves and for that manager to look for appropriate circumstances to encourage their other direct reports to do the same. Additionally, awareness of the inner source project spreads to the manager, who may have previously not known of the team's use and involvement with it.
One caveat - keep it real. Make sure that your words stem from the sincere thanks that you feel inside for what they've done. Keep the level and verbosity of praise appropriate to their level of involvement. Overdoing it may feel insincere and mechanical and defeat your purpose in reaching out.
- Just Say Thanks (from the book Fearless Change)
- Nike (multiple projects)
- Russ Rutledge